"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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KARACHI, June 1: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) filed on Friday a reference against Cyrus Minwala, general sales manager of the Cathay Pacific, and two other people, including a former director of the Pakistan International Airlines, for causing losses of over $31 million to the national flag-carrier in the purchase of six worn-out aircraft.

Administrative Judge of the Accountability Courts Aley Maqbool Rizvi, who is also the presiding judge of AC-1, issued notices to the respondents for confirmation of the order, freezing Mr Minwala's assets, including the Metorpole Hotel.

The NAB had filed an application in the court on Wednesday for freezing the assets of Mr Minwala after its director general froze the movable and immovable assets of the business tycoon and members of his family.

PIA's former corporate planning director Rashid Hassan, and Pervaiz Hussain, a beneficiary, were accused of receiving shares from the "˜ill-gotten' proceeds accruing from an agreement relating to the induction of six B-747-300 aircraft in PIA fleet on one-year lease.

According to the reference, PIA had signed a lease agreement on March 18, 1999, with the Cathay Pacific for five aircraft for two years. It was alleged that the inspection team, which included Rashid Hassan, visited Hong Kong in February 1999 to evaluate the aircraft and the team gave a positive report for all B-747s despite having inspected only two aircraft.

It was alleged that in a meeting of PIA's board of directors, a presentation, based on a comparison with B-747-300 Singapore Airlines' aircraft, approval was sought for acquiring used aircraft from the Cathay Pacific on grounds that PIA's existing Jumbo Jet fleet would be disposed of because of loss of passenger appeal and high maintenance cost. However, the grounded aircraft were made operational within a few months in 1999 and they remained operational till 2004.

It was alleged that besides purchasing five aircraft at a cost of $55 million, PIA also purchased a sixth B-747-300 from the Cathay Pacific in 2002 for $7 million and the aircraft remained parked in a deserted area since 2000, devaluing the aircraft' market value to zero.

The reference alleges that because of the PIA management's acts, the national flag-carrier suffered a cumulative loss of $31 million and the Cathay Pacific deliberately engaged Mr Minwala to sell its discarded fleet to PIA at exorbitant rates. It also alleges that the airline "˜paid' $10.5 million to Mr Minwala who paid $525,000 to Pervaiz Hussain and $245,000 to Rashid Hassan.NAB officials said that several notices had been issued to Mr Minwala to get the allegations cleared but he has so far refused to appear. During the investigation, it was also found that the accused, through properties owned by him and his close relatives, had entered into an agreement with the National Logistics Cell (NLC) to sell the Metropole Hotel.

They said the Mr Minwala's assets frozen by the Director-General of NAB under Section 12 of the National Accountability Ordinance of 1999 included former Hotel Metropole's land measuring 13,111 square yards, a bank account (01748104701) in the Standard Chartered Bank, and a flat in the Bath Island area.

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